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Re: [greenyes] an idea... "ECR"

Whatever the acronym, seems like you've got to focus on who in the supply/demand chain has the leverage to actually change something.

Does consumer behavior matter? Sure. But consumers are fragmented groups of people who influence materials at only two points: what they buy, and how they dispose of it. Their influence at these points as individuals is infinitesimal. In the aggregate, they can be powerful, but need to have a combination of good information (does their packaging contain something hazardous?), good options (an easy alternative to mixing batteries in with their trash), and incentives (the cleaner product is less expensive to buy/dispose) in order to collectively trigger changes in materials use.

In many situations, the most efficient way is to hit the producer (since they can most easily modify product formulation) or the municipality (since they can modify disposal options for populations of people, or some combination. Consumer behavior/options change as a result, even if they are not targeted targeted directly.

While it may not be the beverage manufacturer's fault if somebody dumps their beer can on the road (as Michele points out), there is a much higher liklihood of it getting picked up if there is a deposit on it. Relying on a policy to educate consumers to be more careful about what they buy and how they throw it out seems a poor bet without supporting policies at the supplier and municipal level.

-Doug Koplow

Doug Koplow
Earth Track, Inc.
2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02140
Tel: 617/661-4700
Fax: 617/354-0463

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>>> "Eric Lombardi" <eric@no.address> 06/28/04 11:28AM >>>
Your email triggered an idea... the concept of "ECR" (extended consumer
responsibility) to go along with "EPR" (extended producer
responsibility) ... the bottom line for both being the "extension" of
our thoughts, actions and responsibilities so that the end-of-life
management of our personal/business discards is factored into our
purchasing behavior.

Good idea... bad idea...???

Eric Lombardi
Executive Director
Eco-Cycle, Inc

-----Original Message-----
From: Bob Armantrout [mailto:troutsfarm@no.address]
Sent: Sunday, June 27, 2004 3:11 PM
To: greenyes@no.address
Subject: Re: [greenyes] Bans

Jeffrey Morris <jeff.morris@no.address> wrote:

"That's my hope for eventually getting rid of both landfills and
as we aim for zerowaste."

We agree with these concepts wholeheartedly!

My wife and I practice zerowaste at home and this is precisely how we do
it. We find that by keeping our waste source-separated, we have very few
disposal issues in terms of mess, hassle, or pests.

First (and most important) - We are careful in our buying habits (ECR -
Excessive Consumer Responsibility) We know that anything we don't bring
into the house won't need to be dispositioned when we're done with it.
We buy much in bulk, flour, sugar, spices, etc. We only buy food that
comes in glass, aluminum or compostable paper or cardboard - period. We
buy our produce at the weekly farmers market or the organic food store -
no lettuce in plastic bags!

Second - We have a covered, 2 gallon, indoor compost bucket that feeds
our outdoor pile that we empty at least daily. To this we add paper
towels, small cardboard, food scraps, beer-making tailings, etc. We also
add the bathroom wastebasket where tissue we use to blow our noses goes.

Third - We stage our recycling under the sink in a small kitchen can -
rinsed bottles, steel cans, and aluminum cans. We won't buy anything in
plastic - not drinks, cooking oil, jam, or ketchup - period. Since we
rinse everything promptly when we empty them, this bin can get emptied
weekly without a problem, no ants or anything else.. We take the
material down to our local recycling center on the way to work about
once a week.

Finally, we end up with well less than one cubic foot of landfill per
week. It consists mostly or interior packing from boxed or frozen goods
- little plastic wrappers, bottle tops, foil packages and the like.

We have been following this regimen for the last three years and
actually found that our shopping and cooking became much easier, due to
the simplicity of the ingredients we buy.

Most people think that being responsible for their own consumption
patterns and waste is something that is hard and should therefore be
mandated by their local government. We encourage others through
demonstration to try some of these techniques and see how simple, and
rewarding personal waste management can be.

Here's a link to a photo-essay we compiled when we started this in April
2002, we have refined our methods as we've gone along and it just keeps
getting easier!

Bob & Camille Armantrout

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